Time to Audit Private Rental Inspections
Rental inspections in Bellingham performed by private inspection services should be audited immediately.
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On April 6, 2017, District Court Judge David Grant permitted Attorney Larry Hildes to subpoena records of Doug Ericksen’s contacts with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol and Lynden Police Department regarding the blockade of Meridian St. prior to the Trump rally in Lynden last year. Hildes told the judge he needed the information because he suspected police were acting on instructions from the Trump campaign, rather than their own independent protocols, which would not be unusual in such a situation.
The defense is specifically interested in what bearing those instructions may have had on the arrests and rough handling of the three, as documented on video, that left bruises on two women. The subpoenaed records could also reveal that the Ericksen and/or Trump campaign’s instructions were behind the manner in which police controlled, or chose not to control, the crowd before they dismantled the blockade and dragged the three to the side of the road.
The prosecutor said he wouldn’t take a position on the subpoena, but reminded the court that Ericksen is a resident of Whatcom County. Judge Grant agreed, noting in that case the subpoena did not need to be approved by the court; but he allowed it, finding that Ericksen is a county resident. Hildes stated he requested permission in an abundance of caution and had already sent the subpoena by certified mail. Ericksen’s office signed for it on April 3.
A deadline for both sides to receive other discovery was set for April 17. Two outstanding requests for evidence had been in the way of getting to trial. One was the master police report Hildes had requested but the prosecutor wanted redacted (names, phone #’s and personal info). The other was WSP video requested by the prosecutor. Judge Grant promised that he would redact the report himself, and ordered the video released within 10 days on a follow-up request.
The mood in the courtroom was relaxed and courteous. Judge Grant allowed Western Front reporters to take pictures and seemed to relish the attention. After the hearing, Hildes had shared that if Ericksen does not produce the subpoenaed recordings, he will have to produce himself; regardless, he will be called as a witness at trial. Hildes also mentioned he has a dismissal motion in the works.